He called me to his office. His brow was heavy with concern as he placed clasped hands on an oversized oak desk. Question after question, he searched for what went wrong. How could such a faithful sister from ward council become so misguided? I could see him gauging my worthiness to enter the House of the Lord with the tilt of his head.
It is one thing for a woman to think godly, and it is quite another for a woman to articulate what she thinks is godly. It is one thing for a woman to feel righteousness, and it is quite another for a woman to articulate what she feels is righteousness. It is one thing for a woman to believe in truth, and it is quite another for a woman to articulate what she believes is truth.
My crime was belief. I believed them when they told me I was made in the image of God. I believed them when they told me God’s power was here on earth, and I too could share in that priesthood power as a daughter of divine nature. I believed them so much that I took their teachings seriously. I searched, pondered, and prayed. I pleaded with God. How could I reconcile my faith with my womanhood? How could I reconcile my faith with my desires? I believed them when they told me all are alike unto God. My crime was belief.
The bishop’s face looked disappointed as he informed me that there would be a disciplinary council to review my worthiness to hold a temple recommend. Three men had the power to remove me from the House of the Lord. My crime: I believed too much. I loved too much. But mostly, I spoke too much.
More than four years have passed since that day, and I feel gratitude. Though it hurt greatly, though he exercised unrighteous dominion, though my heart was ripped from my chest that day, I still feel gratitude. I am free to be Mormon. I am more faithful to Mormonism now than I ever have been. I believe. I hold to my crime. I believe.